Having been a member of the Hawk Board for many years, I have seen its value and contributions towards falconry and raptor keeping in general grow and improve enormously. The pressures on falconry both direct and indirect seem to increase in a frightening manner, often from unlikely sources. The potential banning of flying non indigenous birds; banning of the right to feed uncooked meat to birds; the loss of useable supplies of day old chicks; the banning of lark hawking; all of these have loomed over us in the last three years; all have been dealt with by the Hawk Board. Other potential threats too many to name have come and gone, some real, some not, but all have had to be looked at by The Hawk Board to ensure that the sport of falconry and the keeping of birds of prey can still continue as it does at this time.
Many consider that the Hawk Board does nothing, or at best they don’t know what the Hawk Board does. I fully admit that we have not been as good at communicating to everyone as we could have been. This partly because we have been concentrating on dealing with the problems, rather than telling people what we are doing. It is partly because the clubs represented on the Hawk Board all have someone coming to the meeting and it is his or her job to inform the club what is going on, and that has not always happened as well as it might. Its also partly because it is incredibly difficult to get the information out to people – other than a newsletter – how do we do it?? I hope this website will help and we would appreciate constructive feed back on other topics that falconers and raptor keepers might want to know about. The website will grow on quickly I think once we have feed back.
The other criticism we appear to have, not only from this country but also from abroad is that many of the members of the Hawk Board are from the commercial field of falconry and raptor keeping, to which my first reaction is ‘so what?’. As one who is undoubtedly liable to be accused of that apparently heinous crime, I am saddened by this attitude, in a number of ways. I really had hoped that with the gradual demise of what might be termed the ‘old school’ of falconry, a more enlightened view of people who run centres, teach or who breed birds of prey might comeabout. And damn me – there appears to be a ‘new’ old school who are just as hide bound and narrow minded without the excuses of the genuine old school – i.e. being old!!!
A group like the Hawk Board has to be prepared to keep a watching brief and when problems arrive be able to respond quickly. Unless people are paid to do so, those most likely to respond and work hard are going to be those with the most to lose. I have to say that I mentioned a hard core of people in the HB who do the bulk of the work, well guess what – its made up of the professionals, who have the most to lose. And yet I feel that no-one has the right to say aboutme or any of the others that work so hard, that we people do not have falconry’s best interests at heart. All of us people fly and hunt their birds and fight ever hard to keep falconry alive and well. So I wish those who are so free with their criticism were as free at offering to help, expertise and time, and thus put their ‘money’ where their mouth is.
The Hawk Board has done and will continue to do a great job for falconry and for all raptor keepers, however it is up to you – yes you out there – to make sure that we know what you want and need. But remember this, we will make a judgement call on your requests as to whether wecan help, whether it is within our remit to help, whether we are able to help, or whether it is a politically sound move for the future of falconry to help. And you may not agree with the answer, but we will have been fair and honest with all, which is about the best anyone or group can do.